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Full text of "Water purification for city and town supply / by Henry Roeske."

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914 Snyder Avenue. 

Philadelphia, Pa. 

U. S. A- 


Y of 

r f 


The Purification of Water 

The great variation in the quality of water and the 
higher and lower importance of the same for the 
different purposes render it impossible to state, without 
a knowledge of the circumstances surrounding a case, 
the measurement necessarily to be taken in order to 

render with SUCCeSS and economy an impure water 
fit for use. 

It can be comprehended that water for steam 
generation should not contain mineral or metallic im- 
purities from which incrustation of boilers is derived 
while microbes do not hurt in such case; drinking 
water, on the other hand, should be perfectly free 
from the latter, but not necessarily from the former; 
the purest waters found on earth are generally those 
which have came down from Granite hills, but if a 
thousand of such streams are analyzed not one of the 
same will be found wholly free from some admixture; 
this indicates that it has not been ordained in the 
economy of nature to be best for men to receive water 
in a state termed "chemically pure;" the development 
and nutritution of the bony structure of the human 
system requires small quantities of foreign substances 
in water, e. g. calcereous salts, etc. 

If a water, however, contains more than: 
A. 3 parts by weight of dry mineral matter in suspen- 
sion in 100,000 parts of liquid. 
b. 1 part by weight of dry organic matter in suspension 
in 100,000 parts of liquid. 


c. 2 parts by weight of organic carbon or 3 parts of 

organic nitrogen in solntion in ioo r ooo parts of 


d. 2 parts by weight of any metal in solution in 100,000 

parts of liquid, except calcium, magnesium, pot 
tassium, and sodium. 

E. o 5 parts in 100,000 parts by weight of metallic 
arsenic in solution, suspension, chemical combina- 
tion or otherwise. 

i\ 1 part of free chlorim in every 100,000 parts by 
weight, after an addition of sulphuric acid; 

G. 1 part of sulphur in the state of sulphretted hydro- 
gen or a soluble sulphurette in every 100,000 parts 

by weight. 
11 . 0.5 parts of petroleum or hydro-carbon in suspension 

- in every 100,000 parts. 
1. Or having an alkalinity greater than that produced 

by adding one part by weight of caustic soda to 

1 ,000 parts of distilled water. 
Or having an acidity superior to that produced by 

adding two parts by weight of hydrochloric acid 

to 1,000 parts of distilled water. 

It is to be termed "polluted water" unfit for 

domestic use. 

The following is a simple semi-chemical 
test: Fill a clean pint bottle three-fourths full 
of the water; add a half teaspoonful of clean granulated 
or crushed loaf sugar; stop the bottle with glass or a 
clean cork and let it stand in the light in a moderately 
warm room for forty-eight hours. If the water becomes 
cloudy or milky it should be rejected. 

The purification of water for industrial 

purposes for which a clear soft water is sufficient, has 
long ago reached the point from which it is justifiable 
to say that this forms no difficulty but can be accom- 


plished under most all normal circumstances. In some 
cases plain subsisdence will answer the purpose, if not, 
a properly constructed sand filter will retain any solid 
matter that is visible to the naked eye, and if a water 
is impregnated with certain ingredients before reach- 
ing a fjlter, or if such ingredients are mixed with the 
sand, the water will not only be freed from the solid 
impurities but also to a Certain extent from 
such in solution. This is often contradicted, changes, 
however, nothing on the fact; the reader may convince 
himself in a few minutes by the following experiment: 
Take a glass of very clear water, which, however, has 
an odor proving the presence of impurities in solution 
and gaseous form, which have derived from decom- 
posed vegetable matter, e. g., amouia, add so much 
dyah d iron to the water that it appears like, say so 
called white wine, and in a few moments it will be 
noticed that the soluted impurities combine with the 
iron and form a light floculent mass appearing like 
snow-flakes taking the course of descension; this is a 
low process, a sand filter arrests the same instanta- 
neously, returning the water to its former appearance. 
Various propositions for a water-purification plant have 
recently been referred to an Expert for investiga- 
tion ; the writer suggested in his proposition 
the use of this ingredient if it should be necessary; 
that Expert in his report of negative character to all 
propositions raised the question. What is'Dyalized Iron ? 

for tho Experts who do not know, exclusively, the 
following explanation: 

Dialized Iron (Ferricm Dialysatum) is a colloidal 
preparation ; a mixture of basic ferric chloride and 
ammonium chloride isplaced upon a septum ; the crys- 
talloids (ferric chloride and ammonium chloride) pass 


with any free acid into the diffusate, leaving the 
neutral celloidal liquids upon the septum. 

The fact that there are thousands of large purifica- 
tion plants in successful operation, and the progressing 
adoption of such contrivances, render sufficient proof 
for the assertion made before, namely, that the purifi- | 

cation of water to such an extent that satisfies the I 

reasonable demands of the industry*, can be accom- J 

plished under almost any normal circumstances by 1 

competent persons; there is, however, much charla- jj 

tanry appealing to ignorance, claiming bombastically I 

to render with a few drops of alum and a handful of \ 

sand or a common porcelain tube, etc., thousands of 
gallons in less than no time, not only clear, soft and 
absolutely germ-proof, but to be also a curative for 
rheumatism, consumption, toothache, and other dis- 
eases, for which medical science has found no remedy 
vet; for those who suffer under such imperfect con- 
trivances, the following copy of a testimony, and for 
others who contemplate to acquire a good reliable con- 
trivance to improve their water-supply, the attached 
brief and rough illustration of various sizes and struc- 
tures of filters. As mentioned in the preamble, it is 
impossible to ^tate before hand what is necessary to do 

iuordertocombine efficiency and economy; I therefore 
solicit correspondence with informations; I will either 
judge from such informations, or examine personally 
the circumstances, and furnish without any expense to 
the contemplator perfect description of what I deem 
necessary to do to fully guarantee good results with as 
little cost as posssible*; and if I do undertake to guar- 
antee satisfaction, the contemplator is never in any 
ri^k whatever, as I do not ask for compensation except 
the satisfaction is rendered. 


Philadelphia, December 17, 1S90. 

Mr. Henry Roeske has changed for us three water filters 
from the — (courtesy objects to mention name without provo- 
cation) to his own system. The capacity of the filters has been 
increased abou tone half by the change; they are more easily 
I cleaned, and in all respects they are satisfactory. 

The Delaware Sugar House. 

George R Bunker & Co. 

The Purification of Water for Drinking 

Purpose forms more difficulty. Science lias established 
the fact that the germs of diseases are principalis found 
in that large world of small animaculae termed 
microbes, bacteria, etc., that it is, however, less the liv- 
ing animal which renders the danger but more the 
dead; when during their process of decomposition 
matters change into others, appears a poison termed 
11 ptomaeu." This to destroy forms the problem ! It 
can be comprehended that the more animal life there 
is, the more dead and poison there must b< and espe- 
cially when many different specimens are mingled to- 
gether. My appeal to intelligence seems to render it 
superfluous to go here into details in reference to what 
this or the other filter or chemical does ; I can briefly 
9 and safel; -ay. that neither nitration or ehemi< al treat- 

ment, nor the both combined, extract or destroy said 
poison if it is in the water; contrarily, on the hand of 
ten years' experience in this special profession, I do 
not fear any contradiction from whatever side they ma\ 
come, but positively make the assertion, that filtration 
in the hands of the public renders more poison instead 
of extracting or destroying it. It is not the filtration in 
itself what does it, but the carelessness of the people- 
It is unnecessary to investigate whether this or the 
other method of cleaning a filter is the best, because 
nine of ten persons do not do it, even not if it requires 
nothing more than only opening one valve and to keep 


it open for a few minutes. They clean the marble 
steps and the pavement often twice a clay the whole 
year around , the filter, however, Is placed in this or 
the other comer of a cellar, and it is only thought of 
when either th water smells or its flow is decreased. 
How are you protected, even if you have a filter in 
your home, and you are one of the few who form an 
exception and keep their filters in good order, and 
you drink water in your friends' house, or in restaur- 
ants who do not ? Do not doubt the fact that the fil- 
ters erected in industrial establishments where the 
microbe do not eat up much, receive as a general rule, 
better attention than in many private residences, hotels, 
and even in some hospitals, where they eat up life. If 
the reader is desirous to filter his drinking water, the 
annexed schedule will show that I am in that line of 
business, and that I am prepared to satisfy the smallest 
and the greatest demand. My filters are just as 
good as the next and reasonable in price. 

I feel, however, not justified in inducing the pub- 
lic to this kind of water purification for the reasons 
given. I deem it proper that water should be purified 
by the water department of a community, in such a 
manner that the treatment bears partly the character 

of a Preventative and partly of a Curative; the 

value of one ounce of the first to a pound of the other 
- well known. Animal life is a product derived throngh 
insufficient decomposition of vegetable matter ; therefore, 
il there is no such matter, animal life cannot come to 
existence, hence the first measurement to be taken is 
the prevention of the introduction of vegetables into a 
stream, Legislative power cannot command wind 
and the flow of rain water over land into streams. A 
bushel of sawdust, however, or a bucketful of morrocco 
refuse, which passes with the water through the pumps 


into reservoirs, reuders more danger than the biggest 
trunk of a tree floating in the river. The second step 
towards the solution of the problem on hand, should 
be the abolishing of the process of subsidence. 

This proces is absolutely not a proper treatment 
of impure water. It is not a theory, but a well estab- 
lished fact, that motion tends towards purification 

and not Stagnation. Subsidence is in universal use 

in this country ; this proves what has been stated, be- 
cause the complaints about impure water are also uni- 
versal. A remarkable fact can be noticed in Philadel- 
phia : the water in the Schuylkill river above the so- 
called Flat Rock dam is considered to be better that 
that below said dam, for the reason it does not recent 
as much refuse from mills. 

Those sections of the city termed Germantown, 
Chestnut Hill and Manayunk, are supplied with the 
better water; before the water, however, reaches the 
consumers it undergoes a purification prOCeSS b> 
'subsidence. Recently, in almost any show windows of 
Germantown stores could be read : "Step in and sign 
the petition for purer water." A committee of citizens 
appeared before Councils and furnished on hand 
of statistics in referrence to the mortality sufficient 
proof of the necessity for immediate sanitary measure- 
ments ; an other districts of Philadelphia is supplied 
with water by direct pumpage from the river below tin 
dam referred to; with the exception of complaints about 
the appearance of the water after a heavy rain, etc., 
there is no excitement heard of, If this proves any- 
thing it is what has been said, that Stagnation 

disimproves a water. 

Contradictory arguments referring to that ancient 
people had subsiding reservoirs are weak. In former 
times when artificial forcement of water to evaporation 


was of slight degree, air and water was more pure; artifi- 
cial purification was of secondary value, the uncer- 
tainty of rainfall rendered the protection against 
danger of draught a greater ne :essity, hence the stor- 
age reservoirs in lorraer times. Nature had at those 
times not disclosed so much as now ; it was, however, 
even then comprehended that stagnation of water is of 
disimproving tendency to whatever degree it may be in 
a single case, and, therefore, the storage reservoirs 
were built in a manner to keep the water cool, and 
that solar and lunar influences could not act rapidly 
enough to change the moderate good condition of the 
water into a dangerous before it came to consumption ■ 
the reservoirs were built narrow and deep, and they 
were covered. The beneficial effects of air, solar and 
lunar influences on water was not misunderstood con- 
tranly, ,t was very well reckoned with; water was 
carred uito towns in open conduits, in order to gain 
said effects, however, only while the water was in 
motion; the free oxygen in air entrapped by the 
motion, tends towards keeping the decomposition of 
solid matters inside of a limit, and whatever does turn 
mto the state of solution is partly made harmless by 
the chemical change caused by mingling one substance 
with the other, and partly absorbed bv oxygen and 
extr ted by su„ an moonlight: during subsidence it is 
re ed Those who know, need no explanation; 
those who do not, may notice the effect of sunlight on 
colored fabrics in show windows, and that of the moon 
in reference to the tides. 

It is true that the appearance of water can be im- 
proved by subsidence; the appearance, it has been said 
before, is not the solution of the problem. Ever since 

n i2 POW 5, established ■» industry which forces 
millions of tunes as much water into circulation 


through atmosphere and earth with all its consequen- 
ces than in former times, it requires for common sense 
nothing but common sense to comprehend that the 
various kinds of solid impurities accumulating on the 
bottoms of reservoirs, covering generally a large area 
with but little depth, must dissolve to whatever degree 
it may be in the single case and force the impure gases 
into the distributing pipes. If from the standpoint of 
Purification the erection of subsidiary basins should be 
abolished and be substituted by something better, 
reservoirs remain a necessity for other reasons. Even 
by a greater certainty of rainfall, the dan r of a 6 rought 
is not removed entirely-, and they are also needed in 
case of great fires and for equal distribution, etc. In 
the following it is explained how it has been the 
object of study to accomplish a combination of storage 
and thorough purification with as little cost as possible. 
The solution of the problem has been reached and 
consists, briefly stated, of the following : 

The embankment of a reservoir is to be a sand filter 
through which the water percolates slowly according 
to what and how much of it it contains, approximately 
given say, at a rate of 300 gallons per day for each 
square foot of filtering surface ; the same is mixed 
with pieces of old iron, e. g. turnings, borings, filings, 
rivet punches, etc., this tends towards rapidh 
decomposing vegetable matter, thus preventing to 
a certain, but however uncertain degree, it is 
not the "iron" that causes the effect, but the 
hydrated oxide derived from the iron ; this is 
claimed by somebody else to be a new discovery, it is 
however old; it has been in use in England long 
ago, and is here ; it was demonstrated ad oculus at 
the Novelties Exhibition of the Franklin Institute, in 
1886, by the writer. What is of more importance 


here, is that it is of efficiency : It can however be 
1 easily understood that the destruction of a certain 

amount of one matter requires a certain amount of the 
other ; fluctuation of the quantities of the one matter 
in water is known, it can however, not be sufficiently 
observed, hence the impossibility of measure- 
ments which place correctness beyond doubt, or in 
other words, the process must be considered to be a 
good aid but not the perfect solution of the problem. 
Returning to the filtration, during the time the water 
percolates slowly through the interstices of the sand, 
currents of electricity are introduced changably to say, 
, 5,0 tinu in , minute, while electric light is thrown 
on the watei this, our little friends cannot stand. the\ 
are totally destro} I and the formation of poison is 
prevented A machine has been conducted which 
enable I ■ ■ 1 Biter plant for even the largest cit> . 

thoroughly every day. while the nece ary electricity 
for its ation as well as for the purification purposes, 

cau 1 > n < d on every reservoir, by pumping the 
wat< a hat higher, and let it fall down on to a 

water wh 1, thus rendering the whole combin on oi 

sl I ih-rough purification of water at a cost in 

tl C h ,1 community. It is a ridiculous] 

tm >un< fte-i.u pum with nickel-plated fancy 
fittin ^, boxed up in mahogany, pumping mud. 
Corresp- oiden solicited. 

Res] ully, 

HENRY RO] 5KE, H. E , 
914 Snyder Avenue. Philadelphia, i 




TO WAITI. fc=^-=L^>^ 

Portable Filters for 
Laboratories, etc. 

Stationary Filters for th 

e Supply of Houses, etc 




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